GAME REVIEW: Fight for Olympus

This was the last game I picked up at Gen Con (It was just released to the general public on August 31st). First of all, I didn’t know it was even there at first (that’s because it wasn’t, due to the shipment arriving late).  This one was on my radar because of the designer, Mattihas Cramer, who is famous for designing Glen More, Kraftwagen and co-designing Rokoko.  I love his heavier euro designs, but this one was a confrontational 2 player game that played in 30 minutes.  Very different from what he normally designs.  I was very curious to see how it played, so when I saw it on my way out of the Exhibitor’s Hall on Sunday, I had to pick it up..  How does it compare to his more involved games?  Let’s find out!

FIGHT FOR OLYMPUS (2016) designed by Matthias Cramer; Published by Mayfair Games – for 2 players, and takes about 30 minutes to play. 

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The theme of this card game is that each player is a Greek God using soldiers and heroes to conquer Mount Olympus.  A player will begin the game with 6 cards in their hand.  During their turn, they will be playing these cards on their side of the board, preparing for battle.  Over the course of the game, players will be using their cards to attack their opponents cards, hoping to defeat them.  The object of the game is to either have the most victory points (7 max) by the time the deck of cards runs out, or have all 6 spots on your side of the board filled at the beginning of your turn.

The game consists of 3 phases:

  • Play cards from your hand.
  • Attack
  • Draw New Cards

There are 3 different types of cards you can play.  Soldier cards are cheap to play, but don’t offer much attack or defense.  Heroes cost a lot to play, but usually have good abilities and their stats are higher.  You can also play Equipment cards on to your soldiers or heroes, bumping their stats up.

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The stats of a particular card are on the bottom, with attack on the left and their health value on the right.

The board contains 3 sections to play cards on.  Olympus, Delphi and Troy.  Depending on where you play your cards, you will gain a certain bonus, but more on that in a minute.

The first thing you do on your turn is play cards.  You can play as many cards you want from your hand (that you can afford).  The cost to play a card is listed on the upper left hand side.

To pay for the card, you must discard a card (or cards) from you hand that matches the color(s) lists on the left hand side.  Some cards, like soldier cards, have no cost and you can play at any time. There are 4 different colored cards, green, yellow, blue and red.  Some cards are multicolored, which means they can be used for any color.  After you pay for the card, you play it in an empty slot on your side of the board.

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Once you’ve played all the cards you want and/or can, then it’s time to move on to the attack phase.  The attacking player will resolve every card on his side of the board (whether that card was played on this round or a previous one), starting with Mount Olympus, then moving towards Troy.  If cards have at least 1 attack point, then they WILL attack.  If there is an opponents card on the opposite slot, it will be dealt the damage equal to the attack points listed on the attacking card, placing a damage token on it.

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If there is an empty space on the opposite side of the attacking card, then they will be awarded a bonus.  The bonus for Mt Olympus is you get to move the marker on the victory point track towards you.

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The bonus for Delphi is that you can take a colored marker of your choice.  These markers can be discarded when paying for the cost of a card.  If all the markers are taken by the other player and you were supposed to be awarded one, you can take one from your opponent.

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The bonus for Troy is you simply draw a card.

After the attack phase, the current player draws 2 cards, ending their turn.

And that’s pretty much the game.  The game can end in one of 3 ways.

  1. A player reaches 7 points on the victory track, which will immediately end the game.
  2. The game will also end of the draw pile runs out.  Whichever player has the victory point token on their side of the board wins.
  3. If a player has all 6 slots filled on their side of the board at the beginning of their turn (which means their opponent failed to destroy any of their cards on their turn), they win.

I’ve played this twice now. I will be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed after my first play.  Since Cramer’s previous games that I’ve played were so involved, I was taken aback by how overly simple this game was.  I thought to myself, “This is it?”  All you’re doing is just playing cards and damaging your opponent.  It kind of fell flat for me.

However, I played it again a few days ago with an avid Magic the Gathering player.  This time, I did have more fun.  I kind of enjoyed the back and forth.  A strategy started to form for me.  I got it.  I found it interesting how you need to think carefully about which cards you play down.  Do you play your soldiers, pretty much using them as pawns, and slowly build up to stronger heroes?  Or do you go for the strong heroes right away and play them in Olympus so you can score 7 points quickly?

I ended up losing both games.  The first game, the deck ran out and my friend had the victory point marker on his side.  For the second game, my opponent cleverly played strong cards in all of his slots, and I was unable to defeat any of them on my turn due to a poor card draw on my part.  But if you find yourself in a losing position, the game doesn’t drag on, it just ends immediately, which is a good thing.  No need to kick the crap out of your opponent any further.

The artwork is pretty good on the cards and the board is very functional.  I like that it’s a quick 2 player game that is nothing but intense interaction.  The theme is good, but some might find it a bit abstract.  But the game is quick enough that it won’t be a problem for that many players. I did like the abilities that some of the heroes and equipment have. It makes the choice of saving a card to play, or discarding it to pay the cost to play another card from your hand a difficult one.

In my personal opinion though, I’m not sure how often I’ll get this to the table.  As far as 2 player confrontational games that play in 30 minutes go, I’d rather play 7 Wonders Duel.  It scratches that same itch, but has a resource management that I just love in games.  This one is strictly attacking your opponent, which definitely could appeal more to players who don’t like that resource management element in 7 Wonders Duel.

I should mention that both of my friends that I played this with really liked it!  A lot!  My friend Hayden told me it reminded him of Magic.  Now, I’ve never played Magic and have no interest in it, but he said that players who love Magic will most likely enjoy Fight for Olympus.  He said the back and forth, as well as the attack/defense on the cards are very much in the spirit of magic, though he said this doesn’t drag on as much as Magic sometimes does, which he found refreshing.

In a nutshell, if you love confrontational card games in the same vein as Magic (but don’t want to deal with that collectible aspect), this is a nice little self-contained 2 player game with lots of interaction and a cool theme.

For me, while I recognize that the design is solid, it’s just not my type of game.  I’d rather play 7 Wonders Duel, but I would gladly play this again if anyone asked me to.  In fact, who knows, I may even like it more on future plays.  It’s definitely possible.

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